Days like today are why we homeschool. Not the only reason … but you know how when you determine that you are going to do something, you have expectations? A picture in your mind of what it will look like?
I have a master’s degree in elementary education. The vision of an ideal learning situation was burned into my brain. When I started teaching, nothing could have been further from that vision. It was disappointing and frustrating.
So we started our homeschool journey with our eyes wide open. I knew it would require a patient persistence, discipline, celebration, and periods of rest. But I often I beat myself up for falling short of this beautiful perfection constructed in my mind: themed units with broad spiderwebs of connections between subjects. Topical and engaging, the kids excited an enthralled and soaking up the information as organized and categorized little sponges. Easily accessible in their minds so they’d never, never forget a precious drop.
Homeschooling has been so much more agile that I dreamed. I don’t plan themes, I follow a curriculum. I think I’d have been placed in an institution by now if I tried educate from exciting thematic units as a rule. That or my family would have starved and we’d have had to hire a live in maid and nanny by now. I realize that some educators have achieved this, and my hat is off to them - it is a labor of love and likely the result of years of sacrifice, triumphs, and failures. And frankly, I actually feel that if it was exciting all the time, I wouldn’t be best preparing them to leave the nest (college organic chemistry, anyone?).
But today … today was a diamond of a day. Sparkling with multifaceted clarity! Not mined but unearthed from the mud of the mundane. Organic. Natural. The most beautiful day of homeschool among countless sparkling gems on our calendar.
OF COURSE it started with science. I heart science with an anatomical heart in sinus rhythm. We introduced forces and simple machines. Wheels, ramps, levers. I used their own toys to demonstrate, let them try for themselves, and might even be disappointed if I don’t catch them experimenting on their own when they think I’m not watching.
Now, part of our homeschool day involves focus exercises. Not intentionally. But when you have an 18 month old boy running roughshod through your school day … it takes effort to avoid distraction.
I’ve taken to calling RJ Evel Knievel. I thought the girls were climbers, but he climbs higher, faster, and at a younger age … seemingly without fear. He laughs in the face of danger. Our little adrenaline junkie; I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. Today I chided him as a removed him from a table, and Victoria jutted out her chin and came to his defense, “Don’t call my brother evil!”
As I explained that I was calling him Evel, not evil … it dawned on me. Wheels! Ramps! Thank you, internet … as the children watched science reemerged.
It gets better.
Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River in Idaho. The same river we crossed on our road trip this summer. Not far from where we crossed it.
Then we watched footage of the actual jump, with Evel Knievel himself describing his experience. That it was a miracle he landed on the rocks instead of the water, seeing as how he was bound into the heavy machine. Seeing a person who tried and tried and tried again and didn’t wait until everything was perfect.
And that word. Miracle. Inspired Shelby to ask if he believed in Jesus. I vaguely remembered that perhaps he had later in life. And they got to hear his testimony, in his own voice.
And just like that, something better than I ever could have planned unfurled around us.
I just hope I didn’t manage to turn them all into professional daredevils.